Getting accepted by a college is exciting. Even more exciting, and a bit anxiety-producing, is leaving home and entering an entirely new environment – an environment that puts a lot more responsibility on your shoulders. You are now responsible for managing all of your basic needs such as meals, laundry, cleaning; you are responsible for managing your time to balance academics, activities, and social life; you are responsible for how you conduct yourself socially; you are responsible for taking initiative when you have needs to be met; and you are responsible for managing your money. The difference between success and failure in college is your ability to develop certain strategies from the day you land on campus, and here they are your college success tips.
1. Go To All Orientation Activities
You need to learn how to physically navigate around campus, particularly if it is large. You will also want to begin to get to know some of your fellow students, and to immerse yourself in the diverse population of which you have just become a part. Ask questions, and don’t feel dumb about doing so. Engage others in conversation. This is the beginning of one of the most important strategies for success in college - taking initiative and advocating for yourself.
2. Locate all Campus Resources
You need to know where to go if and when you need academic help. Most campuses will have learning resource centers that offer assistance and tutoring for coursework in all basic content fields. You need to know where the campus health center is – both for physical health needs and for counseling and advice if and when you feel overwhelmed.
3. Find the Campus Career Office
You may not need it your first semester, but once you declare a major, you will want to make contact and visit it regularly. There are great advisors who can help you select the right course electives that will enhance your employability, will give you projections on the job market in your field, and so on. Get to know these advisors. The more they see you, the more they will go out of their way to help you. One of the best success strategies for college students is to begin to plan for the future very early on.
4. Start Making Connections with Classmates
You will really want to experience the diversity that exists on college campuses. But even more than that, you can begin to form study groups and to know who you can rely on for notes if you have to miss a class.
5. Make Connections with Your Professors and TA’s
These people have office hours for a reason – to meet with and advise students. If you are struggling in a course, or need advice on a paper you are writing, these people are your best resource. And here’s another one of the best tips for college success. Professors are human and thus impressed by students who want to do well. This comes in handy when there is leeway in grade giving or when a reference might be needed.
6. Get Yourself Organized
And this doesn’t just mean getting clothes in closets and drawers and setting up your room or apartment. It means developing a schedule each semester, based upon your class schedule. When will you be in class? What are the blocks of time that you will set aside for study? Where will you fit in extra-curricular activities and your social life? Study each course syllabus and calendar all of the long-range assignments – tests, essays, papers, and exams. You need to know what is coming next week, next month, and the month after that. Staying organized is one of the most important tips for success in college.
7. Get Yourself Some Involvement and Some Fun
College is a phase of exploration and personal growth as much as it is for an academic program of study. Join as least one campus organization that is a fit for your interests – intramural sports, young Republicans or Democrats, student government, sorority or fraternity, international student associations, campus newspaper, drama club – there are just so many, you will not have a problem finding one that is a fit.
8. Watch Your Health
The best way to stay healthy is to eat and sleep right and to get some physical exercise. Taking some vitamins won’t hurt either, particularly if your eating habits are not all that great. If you have a large campus, get a bike; go to the gym and work out; play intramural sports.
9. Get a Budget
There’s nothing worse than Ramen noodles for the entire last week of every month. And there’s nothing worse than not being able to grab a pizza with some friends because your funds have dried up. Figure out exactly what you have to spend each month (after any required expenses like rent, utilities, car insurance, etc.), divide it by four weeks, and give yourself no leeway. You will be happy that last week of every month when you still have money to spend.
10. Find the Right Environment for Study
You have your blocks of study time already established. One of the best study tips for college is to find the right place. For some, the dorm room or apartment bedroom works well, so long as others around them cooperate. For others, there may be too many distractions. If this is you, then consider the library. You know the right environment for your best productivity. Use it.